Student Programming & Accessibility

The purpose of this guide is to provide information for event planners about the elements of disability access that will foster full participation.

Consider accessibility early in your planning. Good planning may not only save you money, but eliminate the need for retrofitting or individual accommodation. By planning an event that is accessible, you are creating a welcoming environment for your diverse audiences. Commit to similar, if not identical, experiences for disabled and non-disabled participants. Strive for equity and inclusion for all attendees. Planning for access in advance will optimize the opportunity for a well-planned accessible event and minimize the need to make last minute changes. Texas Woman’s is also responsible under federal and state laws to ensure full access for program participants.

One important aspect of being a campus with a heart is thinking about how a person’s disability will affect their attendance and enjoyment of a program or workshop, and planning ahead so that they will feel welcomed and valued. There is no single way to provide accessibility, and the type of need may differ among persons with the same condition. It is often necessary to explore access alternatives and to consult with the individual who needs access to determine how best to accommodate for a specific circumstance. All programs must consider the access needs of people with disabilities, regardless if it is on campus, off campus or online.

Access Statement

Access statements at the beginning of your event can normalize participation for disabled and non-disabled attendees. You can also use that time to share any quick emergency procedures, all-gender bathroom locations, or quiet spaces. It’s a great way to start any event.

Suggested access statement:

Please exist in this space in ways that are most comfortable for you. You can stand up, sit down, lay down, stretch, walk around, leave the room, stim, use your electronics as needed. Feel free to mute your video feed and your mic feed at any point. Understand that everyone exists in spaces in different ways, and how someone can best engage and listen might look different than how you do.

In Person Programming

Before your event:

Select an accessible location, on or off campus, that features:

Visibility - Access for people with vision impairments

  • Appropriate lighting for the space
    • Dark enough to see video and bright enough to see a speaker?
  • Clear signage that identifies location and direction
  • Projection screen visible from all seating, if projection will be used

Acoustics - Access for people who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing

  • Space for 1-2 American Sign Language Interpreters (ASL) and/or CART (Communication Access Real-time Translation) Captioners
    • Interpreters should be in front near the speaker so deaf individuals can have an unobstructed view of the speaker and visuals
    • Check that the lighting is well-lit for view of the interpreters
  • Use of a public address (PA) system
  • Roving microphone for audience interaction
  • Limit unnecessary background music
  • Reserved seating available near the front for lip reading or view of interpreters and/or live captions

Mobility - Access for people who use wheelchairs or have mobility impairments

  • Adequate space for service animals and/or wheelchair maneuverability, approximately 3-5 ft. wide aisles/routes and wide doorways
  • An accessible room layout, including wheelchair accessible seating so wheelchair-users can sit with friends and participate in event activities
    • If the presentation area will be used for activities, the route from the seating area should be accessible (clear, wide, no steps)
  • No loose cables in walkway areas
    • Must use appropriate Gaffers tape or ADA compliant cord covers if cables are in walkway areas
  • Accessible parking and drop-off areas
  • A paved and flat route to and from the main entrance, as well as any outdoor spaces (no gravel, uneven surfaces, curbs, stairs)
  • An accessible primary entrance:
    • Is it flat/level or ramped?
    • Does it have either an accessible door or automatic door opener?
  • Accessible restrooms (indicated with signage). If none are in close proximity, provide a portable accessible option

Technology - Access for people who use adaptive devices

  • For attendees that use adaptive devices, have electrical outlets near accessible seating and provide extra space or work surfaces.

Service Animals

  • Provide comfortable space for service animals to rest during your event
  • Designate an area for accessible toileting and watering facilities nearby for service animals

Quiet Spaces

  • Provide a quiet space for attendees to use during the event.

Marketing, Communication and Registering for Your Event:

To assure equal access, the programming department should encourage participants to request accommodations at least two weeks in advance of the event. However, a program may not refuse to provide an accommodation because the request was not made by the designated deadline. Before denying any accommodation requests, event planners should consult with TWU’s ADA Coordinator or with a member from Disability Services.

Per URP: 01.240 Campus Access for People with Disabilities (pdf), registration materials and program announcements, which include bulletins, flyers, brochures, letters and public service announcements, or other materials used to inform the public of the event or program, must include the following statement:

To request a special accommodation, contact (name), or (host department), at least two weeks prior to the event.

As another option for attendees, consider including an accommodation checklist with your RSVP. Be sure to follow up on all requests received. If it appears you will be unable to meet a specific request, follow up with the individual who made the request to determine whether an alternative arrangement can be made.

Budget for Access:

Per URP: V.17.e Campus Access for People with Disabilities, DSS will assist with coordinating and scheduling access providers, but the cost of access providers and other related access features are the responsibility of the hosting department. Disability Services has secured contracts for the university with local interpreting agencies and local captioning agencies. Consider designating a portion of your department’s budget to meet access related needs such as an interpreter or a captioner. Enlarged printing, video captioning, alternative text to images, etc. are all done in house with little to no financial cost. Not every event will require an access provider, but the request for one cannot be denied on the basis of cost without proving undue burden.

Event planners are responsible for planning and providing for the accessibility needs of participants with disabilities at any event sponsored on behalf of the University. Event planners should include the expense of any anticipated accommodations as a budget item in the event planning. Most access features can be made at little or no cost, such as choosing a wheelchair accessible venue for the event. Event planners who think the cost of the accommodations cannot be supported by the event should discuss alternative funding sources with their supervisor or advisor. Before denying any accommodation requests, event planners should consult with TWU’s ADA Coordinator or with a member from Disability Services.

Emergency Procedures:

Program planners should meet with the respective building managers to receive general emergency information about the building. Consider how the needs of students with disabilities will be handled during an emergency. When planning an event on campus, please remember:

  • All on-site staff should be informed of emergency evacuation procedures.
  • Elevators will not be available during an evacuation. If a participant is unable to exit the building, an approved safe shelter should be identified, and communicated to participants. A staff person should be identified who will inform first responders of the location of the participant who remained in the building.

Program Staff Awareness and Sensitivity:

Being prepared can help you handle unexpected requests. Despite all possible efforts to create an accessible event, some participants may request accommodations at the event. TWU is obligated to make its best effort to provide access if the request is reasonable and can be readily accomplished. Staff awareness and sensitivity are essential to successfully complying with this obligation.

  • Inform staff of accessible features of the event:
    • Accessible parking and entry ways
    • Accessible bathrooms
    • Interpreter locations
    • Access to large print programs
  • Use disability friendly language:
    • Refer to a disabled person as either “disabled” or a “person with a disability.”
    • Refer to those using wheelchairs as "wheelchair-users."
    • Refer to access feature as "disability-related access," not "special."
    • Avoid words that use disability as an insult, like “crazy” or “hysterical.”
    • Avoid phrases such as “wheelchair-bound” or “suffers from” or “handicapped.”
  • If a disabled participant does not want assistance, respect their decision. Do not continue to offer.
  • Event staff should be apprised of the general obligation to provide accommodation for people with disabilities.
  • Staff should be prepared to offer assistance (directions for drop-off and accessible parking, seating, or using the amenities of the building, etc.).

Day of your event:

  • Mark the following with clear and intuitive signage containing the updated Disability Access Symbol [PDF]:
    • Entrance/exit
    • Flow of traffic
    • Elevators
    • Parking
    • Restrooms
  • Physical layout
    • Arrange space so that all guests can use common routes. Routes are wide, flat/paved and clear of debris.
    • Distribute and designate accessible seating options.
    • Accessible cord covers are used to cover exposed cords or hoses on ground.
  • Communication Access
    • Try to eliminate any background noise during the event.
    • Captions should be enabled.
    • Check lighting for ASL interpreters. The visual space should be unobstructed and the light should not turn off even if the main lights are off.
  • Materials/Handouts:
    • If providing handouts, have a few large-print copies in at least 18+ font.
    • Use clear fonts such as Arial or Times New Roman.
    • Encourage electronic materials to be distributed in advance.
    • If the event will have ASL interpreters or CART captioners, provide them with any handouts, PowerPoints, and other materials at least two business days in advance so they have ample opportunity to prepare.
  • Service Animals
    • Service dogs are welcome on campus and they do not have to be identified by a vest, nor does the individual have to show any certification.
    • You may only ask two questions:
      • Is the dog a service animal required because of a disability?
      • What work or task has the dog been trained to perform?
    • Learn more about service animals on campus.

Information for Presenters:

Consider sharing this information with your presenter prior to the event so they can ensure their presentation and materials are accessible. Work with your presenter to consider the accessibility of their activities:

  • Is the room set up to facilitate everyone’s participation in your activities?
  • Would someone with low vision, limited mobility or hearing loss be able to participate?
  • If your audience is unknown, plan ahead for accessible alternatives.
  • Have accessible handouts and materials on hand for participants.
  • Consider sharing the presentation material with the audience beforehand so they can use assistive tech to follow along.
  • When presenting, do not assume individuals can read what is presented on the slide.
  • Describe all charts, graphs, and images, and read all content aloud.
  • Font should be large enough to read from the back of the room.
  • Consider using 30 point font and use sans serif fonts such as Arial or Calibri.
  • Ensure you are using good color contrast.
  • All videos should be captions and the captions should be enabled.
  • Coach your presenter to use disability-friendly language.

After Your Event:

If you are sending out a survey of your event, consider including questions about access. For example:

  • Were you able to request disability-related accommodations?
  • Were you able to fully participate in this event?
  • Do you have feedback on how to make this event more accessible next time?

Plan out your next event with accessibility-related issues and students’ feedback in mind.

Online Programming

Online programming can happen on a myriad of platforms, but we are all responsible for ensuring accessibility for users. By following the guidelines shared in Documents & Accessibility, Videos & Accessibility and Social Media & Accessibility, many accessibility needs should be satisfied in your programming material. There are more considerations for during your programming online.

Real Time Streaming - Captioning

Many social media platforms allow for live streaming, which can be great to use for online programming with students. Facebook Live and YouTube Live both support live captioning by a professional captioner. Instagram Live does not provide captioning support in real-time integrated into their platform, but you can share a separate caption feed to viewers when using a live captioner.

Zoom and Webex support real-time captioning integrated into their platform, viewable by all participants. Google Meet has automatic captions integrated into the meeting platform, however, auto-captions do not comply with ADA effective communications standards. If Google Meet is the desired platform, you can share a separate caption feed to viewers when using a live captioner.

Real Time Streaming - Descriptive Language

Be descriptive when you are presenting! Avoid phrases such as “look over here” or “do this there.” Instead, be descriptive such as “‘look at the top left corner of your page at the image of…” Descriptive language allows for students with low vision to participate, as well as students who follow along with your presentation rather than watching your presentation then taking action.

Sharing the Presentation

When possible, share your presentation content with attendees beforehand. Students may use assistive technology to interact with your content such as a screen reader or magnification. Be sure that your content is designed accessible with alt text, headings, etc. before sharing.

If you are using a presentation, do not assume that everyone can read the slides. Read all of the text and describe images aloud before elaborating. This practice is beneficial not only for attendees who are blind or low vision, but also for captioners or interpreters. They typically don’t look at the screen when they are working, so by reading out the text, they can provide access to the written content too.

Website Accessibility Checker

You can check your platform for some basic accessibility features by using a website checker (there are many, pick one that fits your needs) and fixing whatever issues arise. If you cannot fix the issues, attempt to contact the website or platform owner for support, or find an alternative platform that is accessible.

You can also check a basic level of accessibility by navigating through the page or platform with your keyboard. You should be able to tab through the page and get to all the fields on the page; if you can’t get to every field with only your keyboard, users may have difficulty accessing the site if they don’t use a mouse.

Page last updated 9:19 AM, July 11, 2022